The Scientific Activist

Just Like Old Times….

For one reason or another when I was a student at Texas A&M University, I seemed to find myself in the student paper, The Battalion, fairly frequently–whether I was writing a letter to the editor, being quoted in a story, or reporting science news (as I did during my last semester there). It’s been a while, but in a throwback to the 2001-2005 era, I’m once again quoted in a story today about presidential candidates using social networking sites:

“A candidate who doesn’t take advantage of this is clearly out of the loop and out of touch with young people,” said Nick Antis, class of 2005 and a Rhodes scholar studying biochemistry at the University of Oxford, in Oxford, England. He’s a Facebook friend with Barack Obama.

Antis said he first remembers the Internet becoming central to a presidential campaign with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s 2004 bid. It has grown to include not just campaign websites, but a forum for fundraising, social networking and commentary though blogs, said Antis, who maintains a blog of his own, focusing on the intersection of science and politics.

His candidate, Obama, at 46, is the youngest in the race and has grasped the importance and the potential of the Internet, Antis said. He said he is using it to reach young people with a message of hope and a defiance of cynicism.

Yes, that’s right: I’m identified as Nick Antis in the story. It’s heartwarming to know that some things (in this case the journalistic standards of A&M’s student paper) never change….

And, yes, it’s true that I am Facebook friends with Barack Obama… although based on how well I know some of the people on my friends list, that’s not saying much. (Actually, according to Facebook I’m a “supporter” of Obama–one of over 370,000 on the site–because apparently famous people don’t have “friends”… at least not in the world of Facebook). I have to admit that the fact that I’m quoted in a story about Facebook is a little ironic, though, considering that my girlfriend and other friends so often bemoan the infrequency of the addition of new content to my Facebook profile.

With the exception of the mistake about my name, Rick Rojas–the student reporter who wrote this piece–wrote a fine piece that highlights an important point about this election: Barack Obama has earned the support of young people in this campaign, partly by directly engaging with them. Whether this excitement in such a traditionally low turnout demographic will make a difference in this election, though, remains to be seen. Let’s hope that it does.

Comments

  1. #1 Meredith M. Clancy
    February 5, 2008

    Nick Antis? Nick ANTIS?! Your name is listed at the top of the facebook page–and in journalism, spelling counts!

    For more information about being friends with v. fans of someone you should check out Carl Zimmer’s joining facebook saga:
    http://scienceblogs.com/loom/2008/01/02/more_experiments_with_social_n.php

    Do you think Mr. Rojas simply chose you because you’re probably on the first page of “fans” alphabetically or for your storied history with A&M and its Battalion?
    After reading your excerpt, I’m inclined to think the former.